This spring, the KFC Foundation awarded $2.5 million in scholarships to over 500 restaurant employees. Eleven exceptional individuals were selected to receive $20,000 toward pursuing their educational dreams. Read about their stories of resilience and determination.
Franchisee: Bells & Birds
Haili is a first-generation college student pursuing a bachelor’s in accounting at the University of Phoenix. After becoming a mother, she made the courageous decision to go back to college in 2020 to secure a better future for her family. In 2023, she began working part-time at KFC as a team member to help alleviate the financial burdens of securing her degree. After completing her degree, Haili plans to become a certified public accountant and fulfill her dream of assisting others in attaining financial stability.
Franchisee: Roubekas Enterprises
Mara is a three-time scholarship recipient pursuing an associate’s in radiology at Northern Michigan University. She began her journey with KFC on her sixteenth birthday as a team member and in the four years since has risen to the role of shift supervisor. Outside of work and school, Mara serves as vice president with her local 4-H and is passionate about teaching the younger generation how to raise and show livestock correctly. After graduation, Mara is excited to start her career as an x-ray technician and hopes to continue her education to become a computed tomography or interventional radiology technician.
Mara Heino and KFC team members from Marquette, MI celebrating her scholarship award.
Franchisee: The Chick, Inc.
Trinity is a senior double majoring in accounting and business information systems at Oregon State University. She has been working at KFC since her sophomore year of high school and was a scholarship recipient last year. Trinity’s decision to major in accounting was inspired by her promotion to assistant manager, where she discovered her passion for money management. After graduation, Trinity plans to work as an accounting manager and teach accounting courses at a high school or university.
West Hartford, CT
Franchisee: D.E. Foods
Marleesa is a freshman pursuing a bachelor’s in psychology at Johnson & Wales University. She started working at KFC as a team member in 2022 to help pay for college expenses and just a few months later experienced a devasting house fire, forcing her to use those savings to help her family recover. However, she didn’t let this experience define her future and still enrolled for college in the fall as previously planned. Marleesa is passionate about mental health and the psychological aspect of it and plans to use her future degree to help support and motivate others in securing their dreams.
Marleesa May, KFC team member in West Hartford, CT (Franchisee D.E. Foods), with friends and family celebrating her scholarship award.
Franchisee: Houston Enterprises
Wilfred is a first-generation college student who will start his journey at Elms College to pursue a bachelor’s in nursing this fall. He started working at KFC as a team member in 2021 to help support his mother and younger brother after they immigrated to the mainland from Puerto Rico. He looks forward to helping others in the future as a nurse.
Wilfred Nazario, KFC team member in Chicopee, MA, with friends, family, team members and company leaders celebrating his scholarship award.
Sun City, AZ
Franchisee: PAK Foods
Brandon is a first-generation college student who will start his journey at Arizona State University to pursue a bachelor’s in business management this fall. He started working with KFC as a team member in 2022 determined to save for college. With his education, Brandon hopes to become a successful entrepreneur who positively impacts the Mexican American community through his business ventures.
White House, TN
Esha is a first-generation college student who will start her journey at the University of California, Irvine to pursue a bachelor’s in biology. She started working at KFC in 2022 as a team member to finance her dream of becoming a medical doctor. Esha hopes to use her future degree to inspire other minority girls and serve as a role model for those who dare to dream big.
Esha Patel, KFC team member in White House, TN celebrating her scholarship award.
Franchisee: KBP Foods
Kaden is a first-generation college student who will start his journey at the University of the Ozarks to pursue a bachelor’s in theatre. He started working with KFC as a team member in 2022 before his senior year of high school and plans to continue working part-time at a local KFC after moving into the dorms. Kaden has been a passionate theatre enthusiast his entire life and his dream is to become a successful actor.
Franchisee: KBP Foods
Jaden is three-time scholarship recipient pursuing a bachelor’s in music therapy at Baldwin Wallace University. They began their journey with KFC as a team member during high school and return each year during holiday breaks, excited to see the growth of the rest of their team. Jaden is a first-generation college student and looks forward to fulfilling their dream of becoming a music therapist and aiding those in need.
Jaden Thompson, KFC team member in Cincinnati, OH, celebrating their scholarship award.
Franchisee: Second Gen, Inc.
Paige is a four-time scholarship recipient pursuing a bachelor’s in education from Valparaiso University. She began working at KFC in 2018 as a team member and in the five years since has risen to the role of shift supervisor. Growing up with a tough economic status, Paige plans to use her personal experiences to help her future students see that they still have a future, despite their financial situation. After graduating, Paige hopes to inspire and mentor future generations by teaching at a small-town school.
Valerie is a freshman double majoring in education and liberal studies at the University of California, Riverside. She began working at KFC in 2022 as a team member and was quickly promoted to shift supervisor. After graduation, Valerie plans to attend graduate school before becoming an elementary school teacher and working hard to improve the education system by advocating for mental health awareness.